The Art of Discovering and Maintaining Joy in Your Life

Today, most people are searching for happiness, and I admit that at some point I was also searching for happiness. Until I hit the wall (Jeg truffet veggen) as Norwegians say when they are under a lot of stress and cannot cope with it anymore. The truth is that I have hit many walls in my life, although it has only been within the last 2-3 years that I have begun to understand what happiness and joy are, after using discoveries by my own curiosity to heal myself through Stoicism and the Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) tools.

Over the past few years, I have conducted some personal research by reading a number of books on psychology, stoicism, philosophy, self-help, PMA Science of Success, Sumerian and Acadian records, as well as biographies of other well-known people who have experienced similar setbacks as myself and who now own businesses, as well as watching television interviews about happiness and joy. Both in the past and recently, I asked people what joy and happiness meant to them. Many people talk about their children, their jobs, their cars, their careers and the list seems endless. However, very rarely do I come across one of them who tells me that happiness is what they breathe every day. Someone like this has hit the wall very hard and is grateful.

In short, one of the popular concepts in today’s culture is passion. It is all-too-common to hear voices in our culture argue that finding and securing passion is the end goal of a purposeful life.

Could that be a lie?

Let’s take a moment to consider the ancient Stoics with their positive mental attitude (PMA).

The Stoics disagreed. Why? Because the end goal of Stoicism was a virtuous life—and “passion,” as understood in their time, was a threat as it still is in our times if not understood correctly. The Stoics listed four passions that every philosopher should avoid. They were: Distress, Fear, Lust and Delight.

Moreover, they believed that passions were what contributed to our misery. To the experts and today’s gurus, TV experts, and psychologists who assure us that passion—that unbridled enthusiasm, that willingness to pounce on what’s in front of us with the full measure of our zeal—is our most significant asset, Seneca being the wealthiest person during his time, and after losing everything and being exile 2-3 times would ask, “how can such wavering and unstable persons possess any good that is fixed and lasting?

This man understood the meaning of happiness and joy, and I know there are lots of us who also understand what Seneca meant.

So what should we pursue?

Where do we find joy?

And how do we keep it?

Seneca’s answer comes in his letter, On the True Joy which Comes from Philosophy:

“It comes from a good conscience, from honorable purposes, from right actions, from contempt of the gifts of chance, from an even and calm way of living which treads but one path…There are only a few who control themselves and their affairs by a guiding purpose; the rest do not proceed; they are merely swept along, like objects afloat in a river. And of these objects, some are held back by sluggish waters and are transported gently; others are torn along by a more violent current; some, which are nearest the bank, are left there as the current slackens; and others are carried out to sea by the onrush of the stream. Therefore, we should decide what we wish, and abide by the decision.”

Unshakeable joy comes from purpose. We saw at the beginning of this piece that facing the wall is unshakeable, and if we learn something from it, then we will understand what joy really means.

In something far larger than yourself. In perspective and gratitude. In the wisdom that Stoicism teaches us. It might not be as exciting or glamorous as you might expect. It might be a bit slower. But it’s far more durable and meaningful.

The Stoics believed that reason was the antidote to passion—whether it was taking its form in envy, timidity, excitement, obsession, or pride. The Stoics strove to live “in agreement with nature”, and “reason” was nature’s most precious gift, so living by nature meant, first of all, living by reason.

In line with The Stoics and Napoleon Hill, self-seeking, cowardice, grief, and all other negative emotions can only enter the mind with the consent of own reason.

Stoicism and a Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) both provide techniques for maintaining alertness of the mind if one wants to keep evil emotions at bay.

Another set of tools used by clinicians today is Recovery-Oriented Cognitive Therapy (CT-R) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), among others.

As a result, Albert Ellis and Aaron T. Beck helped develop Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which was derived from the Stoics, and Stoicism isn’t well known to most psychologists today.

What is promised in return is no less than freedom from passion—a word associated with the classical notion of suffering and passiveness. With enough practice, passions can be exiled from the citadel of the self. Neither unhappiness nor misfortune can touch you when you control your passions. Once you are free of your passions, you are independent of the world, possessing an unshakable sense of contentment.

Finding joy will take work, discipline, and self-reflection. But it’s in there. It has always been inside you. Dig deep. Find it.

In conclusion, finding happiness and joy begins with finding your life’s purpose. When you know this, joy and happiness follow because they come from deep within you.

In order to maintain happiness or joy, you need to maintain a positive mental attitude (PMA) at all times. The Stoics of ancient times did the same thing, so we can too.

When you discover your purpose, joy comes along. With a stoic attitude and a positive mental attitude, you’ll have joy you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.

What is joy and happiness for you?


Jay Pacheco

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